While the latest mini-bear run has pushed the FTSE 100 (FTSEINDICES: ^FTSE) steadily away from the 13-year record high of 6,876 it set in May, at 6,499 points it is at least still 893 points above last November’s low of 5,606. The general direction of London’s main index, surely, is still upwards, as the UK heads out of recession.
Sadly, the same cannot be said of all companies. Here are three names that have been heading firmly downwards and setting fresh lows of late:
Shares in Imperial Tobacco (LSE: IMT) (NASDAQOTH: ITYBY.US) are once again testing new 52-week lows.
At 2,153p today, the price has not quite re-plumbed last week’s depths of around 2,120p, but the shares do seem to be on a steady downward trend and have been since May.
But while it’s disappointing for shareholders, the global decline in smoking that might finally have started has to be good news for the rest of us, as rival British American Tobacco has had a similar share-price experience.
Imperial is still forecast to bring in a 4% rise in earnings per share (EPS) for the year to September, putting the shares on a forward P/E of around only 10, and should be offering a dividend yield of around 5.4%. Are we looking at a bargain investment now, or the beginning of the end? I know what I hope for.
Some of our smaller oil & gas explorers have been going through a rough patch, and Bowleven (LSE: BLVN) hasn’t escaped it. Its shares ended at a 52-week closing low of 58p yesterday, picking up just 1p today to 59p by mid-afternoon. That’s a fall of 40% since May’s highs.
The firm reported a $9m first-half loss in March, having attracted zero revenue, and saw its net cash position fall to $90m from $142m during the first six months of its year. BowLeven, operating in West Africa, has had a few exploration successes, but no profits are expected any time soon.
IDOX (LSE: IDOX) is our third loser for today, and though the software supplier to the public sector saw its shares soar as high as 60p in February, the price has since lost precisely 50% to today’s 52-week record low of 30p.
Interim results in June showed a 2% fall in revenue, and a 30% fall in adjusted pre-tax profit to £5m. But the company did lift its dividend 9% to 0.3p per share, “demonstrating the board’s confidence in the business“.
IDOX has reported three years of rising earnings and dividends, and though there’s a 14% fall in EPS forecast for the current year, that does put the shares on a P/E of under 10, falling to 8 based on an EPS recovery predicted for 2014. And there’s not a lot of debt around either. Bargain? Could be.
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> Alan Oscroft does not own any shares mentioned in this article.